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Poster: Judge TOOTMO Date: Dec 30, 2010 11:42am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why no tape flips

For those of you that didn't click through to the Grateful Dead Live at Campus Stadium, UC Santa Barbara on 1974-05-25 (May 25, 1974) show, below are some notes from the taper that address hot only the perils of being a taper at that time but also the general head scene in that part of the country: who knew that "underwearlessness" is what SoCal and SF chickies had in common!

Happy New Year,

In Jeremy Witt's own words...Dec 2010:

I attended the Dead show at UC Santa Barbara in May, 1974, accompanied by friend Paul Handelman and my Sony TC-152 cassette recorder and Sony microphones. The weather was great, dry, sunny, and warm. Par for Santa Barbara in late May. The stage was ringed with the enormous sound system that filled the stage and went up probably thirty feet all around the stage.

On May 25,1974, we were three weeks away from graduating from high school in San Mateo, CA, and had a thoroughly entertaining drive down the coast.

Santa Barbara had suffered a major oil spill in 1969, the beaches were still not their pristine selves. The university was not nearly as popular then as it is now. However, there was a real college atmosphere for this show, with many UCSB students as well as students from other California schools in attendance. Paul and I had already gotten accepted to Santa Cruz and Cal respectively, where we were to start in the fall. The girls were very cute, in a more southern California blonde way but still with the underwearless style of the era and also very much into dancing. My large tape deck kept me out of trouble there.

The deck was "portable" with slots for four "D" batteries, but it was really a full sized cassette deck of the day, including the dolby noise reduction system. I used BASF 120 minute cassettes, and held the mikes by hand, and recorded the show with the Dolby system on.

As I had some problems with getting the deck confiscated by authorities (including Bill Graham in person at the February shows at Winterland earlier that year), we decided to bury the deck for the Santa Barbara show inside the stadium the night before the show. This worked okay, due to several layers of plastic seal. We had also considered smuggling the deck inside a watermelon, but this proved impossible so we opted for digging instead. These details of what I would stoop to humor me at this point as a 54 year old CPA. As tape recorders got steadily smaller and better, these kinds of smuggling shenanigans were no longer needed.

The first set of the day was the Great American String Band. I remember this as being an absolutely great set of bluegrass, featuring Richard Greene on violin, David Grisman, and Jerry on banjo. The sound was great for this part as the crowd was quiet and the weather calm. I lost this tape somewhere down the road, as it became popular in my Cal dormitory the next year. Maybe somebody somewhere has a copy, as I would love to hear it again.

I recall that Maria Muldaur played also, though I do not think that I recorded it. I was busy trying to hook up with my girlfriend Francine Lyons, who also attended the show but did not show up where I was supposed to meet her. Accordingly, I frantically searched but wound up dateless.

We did run into a number of other familiar fans. Bill Walton, then a senior and the basketball center at UCLA, was standing about ten feet in front of us (we were probably 100 feet back, in the center slightly towards the Jerry Garcia side of the stage.) We had to move further over so Bill's big red head did not block our view. I did a mock interview of Bill, as well as several of my friends. I had yet to learn to keep my mouth shut during the show. Some of the voices I recognized on the tapes include above mentioned Paul (now a doctor of osteopathy in San Rafael, CA, friends Jay Abrams and Donny Hamlin of San Mateo, and several others whose names have been forgotten for posterity.)

As far as the show goes, I remember that it took off from "US Blues" on at a fast pace and good sound from the get-go. High points were Scarlet Begonias, Brown Eyed Women and China Cat in the first set, then Promised Land, Big River, and Truckin and Sugar Magnolia in the second set. With Deal, Around and Around, Going Down the Road, and One More Saturday night sprinkled in, this was the classic 1974 rock and roll show by the Dead. The piano on this tour was louder than in prior shows of 1973-1974, a trend which got irritating in the humble opinion of this Dead fan later in the tour - especially the show in Oakland the next month. While I taped that one also, I think I recorded over the cassettes because Keith was louder than Jerry from where we taped. The mix was much better in Santa Barbara.

We had also attended the show at the Cow Palace that March that featured the new massive "wall of sound" system, then in Reno and Oakland. Along with Cow Palace, the Santa Barbara show stands out in my memory as a beautiful day and one of the great Dead shows of the era - a special time in my life.

Jeremy Witt

-meta data image of Bronze Garcia Hand Statue
courtesy of The Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation

[[caveat emptor- despite some flaws and age, tape pauses and hand held movement, this is one unique recording and quite a document of the feel of "being there"- GEMS]]